Neighbors in Franklin and Bay counties have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters.

Bay County League of Women Voters, Sierra Club Big Bend Group, WKGC 90.7FM, City of Apalachicola, Downtown Books, St. Andrew Bay Watch and Solar United Neighbors are the co-op sponsors.

“We’re supporting this project to protect our watersheds and preserve our natural resources for the next generation,” said John Ackerman with St. Andrews Bay Watch.

Solar United Neighbors expands access to solar by educating Florida residents about the benefits of distributed solar energy, helping them organize group solar installations, and strengthening Florida’s solar policies and its community of solar supporters. Solar United Neighbors of Florida has organized more than three dozen solar co-ops, helping roughly 850 homes go solar.

Mayor Van Johnson, with the city of Apalachicola, spoke not only of his support of the new co-op, but also in-depth of the city’s plans to move to renewables. Citing job creation, economics and the “duty of the city” to protect its natural resources for generation of citizens to come.

Franklin and Bay county residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, Solar United Neighbors will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op participants will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up off the cost of going solar and have the support of fellow group participants and solar experts at Solar United Neighbors.